IELTS: How to Improve your listening skills and Ace IELTS Listening Test

As well known, the IELTS consist of four skills section including Listening, reading, writing and speaking. A candidate will have to score high in each of the sections to obtain a high band score that may lead to offer of admission as well as scholarship and job offer. All IELTS scores are between 0 and 9 so you will get a band score for each of the skills and also an overview band score. This article therefore seeks to show potential test writers how to improve their listening skills to get a better band score.

Listening skills is one of the skills that a test writer can easily take advantage of when undergoing IELTS Prepartion. You already have excellent listening skills in your mother language and this can be explored to improve your listening comprehension for the IELTS listening test. In this piece, we will be looking at common activities that can be utilized to develop listening skills which are crucial to performing well in the IELTS test.

Listening Skills for Excellent Performance

The four skills include ‘anticipation’, ‘active, targeted listening’, ‘thinking/preparing’ and ‘noticing’.

  • Anticipation: In our daily routine, when interacting with people, we usually anticipate what may come next after each conversation and prepare our mind to effectively engage. This is a skill that can be perfected so as to register a good IELTS performance. we usually know what we’re listening to and why, so we have some expectations about what we will hear.
  • Active targeted listening: In every conversation, we make it a conscious activity to get the facts of the discuss. For instance, when in airport departure lounges, we naturally sieve out all unnecessary information to hear our flight call. So, for IELTS test this same consciousness can be applied when doing the listening test.
  • Thinking/preparing: This skill involves using all human consciousness and relates particularly to meetings at work or seminars at college or university. When having a class or lecture, you know in advance who is going to speak and what they will speak about. So, you know ahead of the talk what notes you need to make that are relevant to you.
  • Noticing: This is a very important innate skill to be explored while listening. While having a conversation with a friend, if he says ‘Oh, by the way . . .’, we know they are about to add new or different information. Likewise, in a class, if the teacher says, ‘Now, let’s turn to . . .’, we know this means going to a different discuss.

Candidates writing IELTS will have to transfer these natural endowments to the IELTS Listening test. The following hands-on practice can help you transfer these natural endowments to answering questions in the IELTS Listening test.

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Tips and Practice

  1. Anticipation: The IELTS Listening test consist of four parts and you have 30 seconds to look at the questions before the audio starts. There is an additional 20-30 seconds in between Parts 1, 2 and 3 that a test writer can use to anticipate/predict topics that might arise, and arm yourself with what you need to answer the question.

Tip: In the 30 seconds you have before the audio starts, look through the questions and work out what the topics are, and start thinking about the vocabulary you may hear.

  1. Active, targeted listening: Many of the questions in Parts 1 and 2 require information in the form of numbers, times, dates, prices, phones, zip codes etc. There are different rhythms for reading out numbers in different languages. Targeting and practicing noting numbers in different, though typically Anglophone, rhythms are essential. Listen to number-rich audio clips and write down all the numbers (and what they refer to).

Tip: Regularly listen to a radio news broadcast (usually on the hour or half hour). The short news bulletin is usually followed by the weather forecast.

  1. Thinking/preparing: The Part 3 of the listening test includes a conversation between 2 and 4 people in an educational context, e.g., 2 students discussing a project or research or a student and a tutor discussing the student’s work. In such scenarios, different people will have different questions to ask and different information to give depending on their role. Actively think about an individual’s role while looking at the questions, as this will help you prepare for which speaker to listen to for different questions.
  2. Noticing: Listening test Part 4 requires listening to an academic monologue like a lecture. Whilst these require no specialist knowledge, they are dense and information rich. It is therefore important that you practice picking out as many ‘clues’ to the direction and flow of the talk as possible.

Tip: Use test transcripts to look for the cohesive devices that signpost the organisation of the lecture. Then try categorising the different functions.

It is important develop and utilize the natural abilities we possess in our mother tongue when tackling the listening test section of IELTS. Any serious test taker should make a conscious effort to harness these skills in order to have an overall band score. Good luck!

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